Friends, this week at the Assembly for the Anglican Church in North America, a new Book of Common Prayer was presented to Archbishop Foley Beach and everyone attending the Assembly received a commemorative copy. I wanted to take the time this week to look at this new prayerbook, and what you’ll be seeing in the weeks and months to come.
A Return to the Classic Prayer Book Tradition This prayer book represents a return, in many ways, to the classic prayer book tradition, with an emphasis on common prayer. Gone are the differences between Rite I and Rite II. We now truly share common prayer with unified rites for the daily offices and the eucharist. In areas where the liturgical movement of the 1960s and 1970s led to widespread abuse, especially in the baptismal rite and the ordinal, the new prayer book rights many of the wrongs, returning us to practices that are recognizably Anglican.
A Preservation of the Catholic Tradition Recent prayer books have adopted a whole range of catholic liturgies and practices that had been lost since the time of the reformation. For the last several decades, we have enjoyed rites for things like Holy Week and Sacramental Confession. Even a rite for Ash Wednesday including the imposition of ashes is new to the prayer book tradition. These have been preserved and even strengthened.
A Clarifying Force for Orthodoxy The Anglican Church in North America was set up to be a force for orthodoxy in the world today. With an excellent catechism and a renewed prayer book, we stand ready to defend biblical orthodoxy both in our teaching and in our liturgies. The old adage from Saint Hilary holds, lex orandi, lex credendi, “the law of prayer establishes the law of believing.” Previous prayer books had sought to “soften” the once clear and forceful words of the classic rites, in in so doing, the power of the liturgy to form steadfast believers was partly lost.
A Book Which Will Be Used By the People of God The hope for this prayer book was that it would be used by everyone. And in this, I must say that I am pleasantly surprised. We have been using the eucharistic rites for the last five years at Christ Church and they have only improved. We are in receipt of a prayer book which we can confidently place in our pews, in our homes, and in our memories, slowly allowing the words to become resident in our hearts. That, dear friends, is a very, very good thing.